Kirov Ballet - 'Giselle'
by Catherine Pawlick
October 27, 2004 -- Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
It would be inaccurate to claim that great casting can make or break a ballet performance – so many other elements are necessary components in the mix. But a well-matched Romeo and Juliet, Basil and Kitri, Cinderella and her Prince can certainly tip a performance towards the high end of the scale when both leading dancers exude professionalism and virtuosity in their own rights. That was the case Wednesday night at the Kirov’s first “Giselle” of the season at the Mariinsky Theatre.
Natalia Sologub, already noted by this reviewer as a ballerina, confirmed her stature as such in tonight’s performance. Her footwork and articulation are remarkable – she walks through her metatarsals and did more than one step-up turn from half pointe, and she managed more than one silent, floating balance in the second act. Her entrechat quatre/retire passé sauté series (also in Act Two) looked as if she were suspended on a cord from the ceiling, due in part to her mastery of the Wilis’ weightless arms. Her technique is so certain and already so polished that she can focus on the dramatic aspects of the role. And that’s just what she does. She adopts her character’s persona, whether it be a flirtatiously seductive Manon (as in August) or in this case Giselle, innocent, shy, a bit nervous, but cheerful in life and in love. She jumped at Albrecht’s first approaches, as flighty as a young doe, but soon trusting and exuberant in her newfound amour.
If Sologub is the ballerina’s ballerina, then Evgeni Ivanchenko is by far the Prince’s prince. His stature and physicality contribute to this, but the part that cannot be imitated -- the noble bearing, the aristocratic gesture, the princely walk – these too are his. As Albrecht he tended towards the more forgivable side of the scale – there are the Albrecht’s you love to hate, and those you love to forgive. He was the latter, simple due to the credibility of his mannerism.
Together the pair made quite the couple. One got the sense that they were in fact in love with each other, separated by social status, and then by the division of heaven and earth. The feeling, ever so slight, of a fated love, carried for the most part by Giselle’s compassion for her betrayer, but supported also by Ivanchenko’s strong acting abilities, came across from both dancers.
The two held one’s attention thoroughly but a few other dancers must also be noted. Myrtha was danced smoothly and serenely by Ekaterina Kondayurova. Credit goes to Yana Serebriankova for her seamless balances as Moina; Zulma was danced by Tatiana Serova. And Alexander Polyanichko conducted.
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